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March 2017

Wonder Woman Trailer #3

Are any of you as pumped for the WW movie as I am??? I’ve been looking forward to it ever since Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was the undisputed best part of Batman v. Superman. She was a big part of the marketing campaign for that movie, and it was clear that they wanted to establish Diana as a core character alongside Superman and Batman. And now she’s getting her own movie! It’s so exciting!!!

The newest trailer dropped about 2 weeks ago, and I don’t know about you all, buuuut I’ve been watching it on repeat ever since.

This trailer, first of all, features baby Diana! So cute ❤ It revealed a bit more about Diana’s origins and her training, which looks grueling to say the least! But it’s clear her mother knows there’s something special about her. (Also, did anyone else catch Robin Wright as Antiope? I knew she looked insanely familiar but I just couldn’t place her!) Diana leaves her home when she learns of the Great War, in order to protect the world. We get little teases and hints about the big bad threat behind the war, but nothing much yet. I think they’re playing their cards pretty close to the chest so as not to give too much of the plot away.

Just! Look! She’s so strong and beautiful and alskfjdalskfj my heart can’t take it. I’m so glad I’m alive to see Wonder Woman finally get the recognition she deserves after 75 years of comics ❤

Any thoughts? Theories?? Just fellow fangirling (or fanboying)???

– Kathleen

Vinland Saga: Book 1

I used to read manga in high school. My favorite titles were Fruits Basket, Chibi Vampire, and Mars. But with that interest came a curse… I could never, ever, no matter how hard I tried or how many times I restarted the series, finish it. So, I would have called myself fans of these, but never actually finished them. Good job me 😄

(Lucky I’d never been spoiled for the ending of any, especially Furuba, given how popular it was at the time and how many of my friends were into it, too.)

I came across this in the computer at work and ordered it for the heck of it. I was quite surprised when it came in and I saw it was a manga. But I figured I’d try it anyway – maybe the curse had since been broken!

Thorfinn is a young Viking, a deadly warrior for someone of his age. He’s got plenty of reason to be. His village was destroyed when he was a child, and his family slaughtered. He belongs now to Askelaad, the very man who murdered his father. Thorfinn has no choice but to go with Askeladd into battle, but is plotting, ever plotting, to challenge him to a duel and avenge his father’s death. Ever since he was a child, listening to Leif Erikson’s stories, he’s wanted to be a Viking explorer, but not like this…

… I’m sad to say I’m still under the curse. I couldn’t finish it and gave up about halfway through. The beginning chapters were action-packed and moved incredibly fast, and I was sucked in! But then it started taking us back to Thorfinn’s past and it just stayed there. It seemed to want to reveal his entire backstory in one go, and I’m not really about that fast reveal. The art is pretty good, dynamic and more atmospheric than I remember manga being. There is a looot of blood in the battle scenes though, so watch out for that if you’re queasy. The history seemed to be well-researched. I can definitely see how it would be engaging for another reader, but sadly, I’m just not that reader!

– Kathleen

Yukimura, Makoto. Vinland Saga: Book 1. English translation: 2013.

Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Gray

Barbiere, Frank & Chris Mooneyham. Five Ghosts. 2013.

Five Ghosts is a throw back to the pulp-style comics that were churned out in the 1920’s & 1930’s with a vibe similar to Doc SavageThe Spirit or The Phantom. The premise is that treasure hunter Fabian Gray has been possessed by five ghosts/spirits whose abilities he can tap into during his adventures.

Indiana Jones is the obvious comparison to Fabian, as he adventures around the world, seducing many women and stealing historical artifacts. He harnesses the skills of an archer, a wizard, a detective, a samurai and a vampire to help him on his quests although it exhausts him afterwards. We learn some back story of Fabian, and meet his best friend and fellow adventurer Sebastian. Sebastian was romantically involved with Fabian’s sister Silvia, who is now mysteriously in a coma, due to the connection to the Dreamstone that gives Fabian his powers. The two men search for the key to save her, and have to fight evil Nazis, Occultists and other worldly creatures as Fabian learns to properly be the vessel of the five ghosts.

The illustrations by Chris Mooneyham are excellent, with a a dark sepia colored palette to match the nostalgic adventure themed narrative. The lettering, especially on opening chapters, is evocative of the pulp fiction comics that Five Ghosts is paying homage to. The layout of the story was appealing, with some full page spreads and some interestingly varied panel configurations.

However, I was uncomfortable with the way different cultures were portrayed in this novel, and that would be a collaboration between author and artist. When Fabian crash lands in Africa (with no more designation that that) he and friend are captured by primitive loin cloth wearing natives who worship a spider god, and they are tied up as a sacrifice to the spiders. The only reason why the men escape, is due to a mystical Asian man who helps fight off the spear-wielding tribe members, and then whisks them off to Shangri-La. This exoticism of the Orient and showing African natives as savage are crude stereotypes that I believe are wrong. I find it ironic that a book that is paying tribute to five literary figures would repeat damaging literary tropes elsewhere.

While the story line is set up for many more adventures, I will pass. I flipped through volume two, but did not take the time for a thorough reading, for it seemed to repeat many of the same issues I found in volume one. This throwback story had some intriguing ideas, but I felt the negatives out weighed the positives.

-Nancy

Sunshine Blogger Award²

 

The Green Onion has filled our life with light as he nominated us for our second Sunshine Blogger Award!  The GO is a master of creating graphics on his blog, so we took the liberty of borrowing his!

The guidelines for this bright award:

  1. Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or on your blog.

Q & A:

1. Can you describe your ideal man-cave/woman-cave/library, and what kind of things we would find in there?

Nancy: Just read what Kathleen writes below this. Me too.

Kathleen: I guess my home library would traditionally look more like a “man-cave”; I like dark woods and colors that are traditionally seen to be more masculine. Big comfy couch for reading on. A window seat if I wanna mix it up =P And blankets! Floor to ceiling bookshelves of course. A fireplace would be ideal!

2. What was one of your most prized toys/possessions when you were a child?

Nancy: There is a picture of me in a crib sleeping with my Harris Bank lion. I named him Powsie Wowsie and still have him. All my kids have loved him, and he will be kept forever as a family heirloom! Powsie graciously agreed to be pictured in the blog 😉

Kathleen: I had a Lucky plushie from 101 Dalmatians and I beat that thing near to death from loving it 😄

3. What book/comic book movie adaptation do you wish they would make that has not been done yet?

Nancy: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell! But the casting would be crucial to make it successful. No little Hollywood starlet would do for Eleanor.

Kathleen: I’m always wary of this question because when a book goes to screen, they always manage to screw something up… that said, I’d love to see a DC Bombshells animated series!

4. You won a $500 gift card to the bookstore, what do you buy first?

Nancy: I’d probably head to the non-fiction aisle for some photography books about the National Parks, and of course I’d be in the comic book/graphic novel area looking for some classics to pick up.

Kathleen: The illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Only have The Sorcerer’s Stone so far~

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5. If you had to cosplay any character, and had access to whatever you needed, who are you going as?

Nancy: I would go in a Star Trek uniform.

Kathleen: Oh man, I’m torn… buuuut if I have unlimited time/resources I’d want to do a proper Batgirl. With armor, not that spandex crap. Like Arkham Knight Batgirl~

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6. You can have any robot-pet, what kind of robo-pet do you get?

Nancy: A big wolf-dog.

Kathleen: A PUPPY!!!

7. What was the worst mark you ever got in school?

Nancy: I do not have an ear for languages, so I attempted Spanish in both HS and college and squeaked by with a C- even with the assistance of my HS best friend who can speak Spanish fluently. She would help me write my assignments. Gracias Annette!

Kathleen: I originally got a C on my senior thesis for my undergrad… after creating 10 oil paintings and staying at school my entire spring break to work on them. My professor just plain didn’t like me and the feeling was mutual. I contested it and ended up getting a B.

8. What would be the absolute worst villain/monster after you?

Nancy: Freddy Krueger. Read all about my sleep issues with this villain in my guest post for Just Dread-Full.

Kathleen: A personification of my student loan debt.

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9. If you were going colour blind, and get to choose which colour you lose, what colour will you never see again?

Nancy: Barf green. The name of that shade explains why.

Kathleen: That specific shade of ugly ’70s puke-orange. You know which one I’m talking about.

10. If you could own any fictional vehicle, what are you driving?

Nancy: I’m not a fan of flying, so I guess I’ll pick the Batmobile.

Kathleen: The Invisible Jet… of course… =P

11. You get one protein, one fruit/vegetable, and one dairy product, for the rest of your life, what are your choices?

Nancy: Chicken, raspberries and cheese.

Kathleen: Chicken, strawberries, and I’m lactose intolerant! I do like soy yogurt, though, does that count???

YOU, our dear readers, are our sunshine so we nominate ALL of you out there to do this using the questions we answered! Thank you and have a bright wonderful day!

-Nancy & Kathleen

Star Wars ComLINKS: Most Emotional Scene

How can I pick just ONE emotional scene from the growing Star Wars universe, as the Star Wars themed blog Anakin and His Angel asks me to? That’s like asking which of my three children is my favorite! So…I had the brilliant idea of asking each of them which was their most emotional scene as I put together this Comlinks prompt.

First off, my darling daughter!  She’s a beauty, loves cats and is good with kids. April’s choice:

April choose the scene between Padmé and Anakin as they are talking and falling in love with one another. Before you say how romantic that she would pick a love scene, she actually choose it to mock the dialogue.  She immediately quoted Anakin as saying, “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere.” I find it amusing that pitiful banter that led to her laughing was her most emotional moment. Watch out boys- you have to step up your game when you woo my daughter.

Next, my giant 6’4 son who is great musician, and is going off to Augustana College next year. Nick’s choice:

Nick was amazed when it was revealed that Kylo Ren was Han Solo’s son. He and a date had gone to see The Force Awakens, and saw it before I did. I quizzed him about the movie and he let slip what happened between father and son. Even knowing this spoiler, I was shocked at how hard it hit me when Kylo betrayed his father. The feels! The tears!

Last but not least, my baby who is an awesome runner and has a sly sense of humor. Lucas’s choice:

Lucas feels that Anakin’s turning fully to the darkside was depressing and led to all the destruction and death in the next movies. Lucas waxed poetic for days about Darth Vader’s last scene in Rogue One, as he thought he was so bad ass. But seeing Anakin’s downfall on the lava fields, as his last glimmer of good is seemingly extinguished, was his most emotional moment.

I could add so many more emotional moments- I am your Father, Luke’s hand being chopped off, Han Solo being frozen, Ben Kenobi dying, seeing a mature Leia and Han together, and Luke’s appearance as Rey finds him were all very emotional for me. That these movies still shock me, make me laugh, make me cry, make me worry and make me sit at the edge of my seat are a credit to the storytelling and epic scope of this universe.

May The Force Be With You ♥

-Nancy

Monthly writing prompts await you on this incredible Star Wars site, led by the versatile Jenmarie!

 

 

DC Superhero Girls (Vol. 1): Finals Crisis

It’s finals time at DC Superhero High! Each girl is struggling with test anxiety, putting the final touches on her projects, and finding a quiet place to study. However, one by one… the girls go missing! Someone much bigger and powerful than they – even Wonder Woman! – are cornering the girls and taking them to a secret lair. Who is it? Can the girls band together and stop whoever the culprit is? Can they do it in time to show up for finals?

I’ll get around to watching this show… in my infinite free time… lol 😄 The comic is bright and colorful, with rounded forms and animated interactions between characters. I love the designs for the girls – Diana is wearing PANTS (I love when they give her pants) and Bumblebee has an undercut, which I thought was too cute! There are lots of cameos from other DC heroes and villains, which was a nice surprise. There’s a great message about teamwork and friendship. Overall a wonderful introduction to the DCU and its heroines for young girls ❤

– Kathleen

Fontana, Shea, and Yancey Labat. DC Superhero Girls (Vol. 1): Finals Crisis. 2016.

Hark! A Vagrant

Hark! A Vagrant has awesome riffs on history and literature, and is done so in an intelligent and hilarious manner.

Author Kate Beaton who is now a regular contributor to the New Yorker, was formally a history major and worked in museums for a time, now takes her sharp wit and skewers historical and literary figures with a modern lens.  Beaton illustrates mostly in black and white, and sketches out caricatures of recognizable people in absurd situations. Her ironic strips point out the foibles of the past, and how that would play out in modern day. No one is immune from her humor- as she pokes fun at Edgar Allen Poe, Jules Verne, David Bowie, St. Francis, Ben Franklin, Andrew Jackson, many European kings and queens plus so many others.  I found the satire surrounding the characters of well loved novels the most amusing and picked just a few to highlight.

Why do some women love bad boys? Heathcliff was horrible! Not brooding, not sexy, not misunderstood…he was an ass! Sorry Brontë sisters, but your romantic leads suck.

Case in point- are we supposed to be rooting for the marriage of a guy who locks his mentally ill wife in the attic???

As a girl, I was so into the Nancy Drew books…she had my name, people! However they were terribly dated, and these explanations of the content are hilarious!

I could add dozens more, but why, when you can go to her website yourself and check these smart cartoons out yourself! I would definitely recommend this witty collection of strips, especially if you have rolled your eyes at a ridiculous plot point, literary trope or questionable historical fact. Enjoy!

-Nancy

** You can usually tell when I have less time to blog and I review comic collections instead of graphic novels. I have been very swamped with family, work and grad school commitments, so my recent posts reflect my lack of time. In fact, I am fitting in this blog during my lunch break at a library conference I am at this weekend. Hope to have some reviews based off longer books soon!

One Lovely Blog Award

Thank you to MiRakelBooks for nominating us for this lovely award! Make sure you check Rakel’s outstanding blog, for she has well written reviews on YA, fantasy and sci-fi books. Plus, her blog’s graphics and layout are very appealing!

Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog
  • Add the One Lovely Blog Award to your post
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Pass this on to as many people as you like (max 15)
  • Include this set of rules
  • Inform your nominees

Seven things about each of us:

Kathleen: Though Pokémon was all the rage when I was a kid, I never really played any of the games besides Leaf Green. When Pokémon Go came out, I fell back in love with it, and my boyfriend bought me a 3DS and Moon for Christmas so we could play together ❤

Nancy: I had a cameo in one of my favorite graphic novel series, Revival! I was drawn in as a doctor in the last issue of the this rural noir thriller. I am over the moon about it, and carry the issue around with me everywhere to show people.

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Kathleen: I don’t like the holidays. Grade A Grinch right here!

Nancy: I am the Teen Services Coordinator at my library. I started a teen volunteer program there, and have some fantastic teens who help with a lot of different projects.

Kathleen: I used to eat peanut butter every day until I developed a nut allergy last month. The worst part is no more Nutella tho *sobs*

Nancy: My Goodreads Challenge is to read 100 books this year. So far so good!

Kathleen: I didn’t have my own cell phone until I was in college – did fine without it using my friends’ phones to call my mom! =P

Nancy: I really like hiking. I don’t like to go to the gym to exercise, but I do enjoy wandering around the woods.

Kathleen: My favorite “retro” video game is Spyro the Dragon.

Nancy: My husband and I are going to see U2 in concert in June!

Kathleen: I’m an artist who hates getting dirty.

Nancy: The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan really is grand. My husband and I splurged on an anniversary trip there, and it was worth every penny.

Kathleen: ^ That hotel was featured in a Hollows novel! (It’s not a fact about me, but it’s a cool one)  **And it was the setting for the fantasy time travel movie Somewhere In Time! (Nancy)

Nancy: I secretly really like country music. Don’t judge me.

Our nominees: 

Darth Toothpick @The Nerd Cave– OMG, this guy loves ElfQuest! EQ is just the BEST comic out there!

Robert @ Reading Over The Shoulder – A lover of high fantasy

Victor @ My Poor TBR– Great reviews of thrillers and other books

Tiana @ The Book Raven – Reviews of fantasy books =D

Owls & Vowels – Fellow librarian reviews!

Britt @ GeronimoReads – Didn’t think I’d know about anyone else who heard of Daughter of Smoke & Bone 8D 😄

Thank you again to MiRakelBooks for this nomination!

-Kathleen & Nancy

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Science Fiction & Fantasy Books

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes.

“YAAAASSSSSSSS!!!!!” – Me when I saw this prompt. I mainly read fantasy outside of comics and GN’s so I was super excited to put this together and share my favorites with you guys!!! =D

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5. The Hollows series by Kim Harrison

Meet Rachel Morgan, a witch runner who attracts trouble more than honey attracts a pixy. Together with her roommates and business partners, vampire Ivy Tamwood and pixy Jenks, they solve crimes, butt heads with drug-dealing warlords, and occasionally save the world.

If this prompt had been a month ago, this series might have been higher on the list. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it! The series started off strong, but lost momentum around the middle for me. I just finished the last book and feel like I slogged through it just to get it over with. What made it make the list was the excellent characterization, humorous tone, and interesting world-building. It’s a good alternative to grittier and darker urban fantasies. I have fond memories of reading the first couple books with my friends in college ❤

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4. Trickster’s Choice/Queen by Tamora Pierce

I want to personally thank Tamora Pierce for single-handedly getting me into the fantasy genre. I read the Song of the Lioness series for the first time in middle school, fell in love, and immediately wanted more. I’m 99% sure I read her entire section in my middle school library… and my teachers let me go hang out in the library during homeroom and do it!

My mom got me these two books as a Christmas gift while I was in high school, and I fell back into the world of Tortall – every bit as magical as I remembered, but a bit more grown up and complex for the older reader I was. Aly is a compassionate, plucky, and resourceful heroine, determined to do good in the world but make a name for herself out of her famous mother’s shadow.

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3. Jill Kismet series by Lilith Saintcrow

This is the first urban fantasy series I read… and I absolutely love it. Honestly, nothing else I’ve read even comes close to the standards I’ve set by this series. It’s kind of interesting I like it so much, because it’s much more graphic and violent than what I normally read. But what keeps me coming back is the heart-pounding action, fascinating world (present day at time of publication but basically with demons and Hunters who kill them), and Jill herself. She’s cracked, but doesn’t let herself become broken. She has sharp edges and a bite to match her rather loud bark, but she ultimately cares about people and has a great capacity to love. I cry with her and cheer for her every time I re-read the series. Saintcrow is now one of my all-time favorite authors.

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2. East by Edith Pattou

This book was my first encounter with the fairy tale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.” I can still remember the first time I read it, being absolutely spellbound by this blend of history and fantasy. The POV alternates between Rose, the main character who is taken by the ice bear and who consequently has to travel “east of the sun and west of the moon” to save him, her brother, her father, and at times the ice bear. Rose is tenacious and incredibly intelligent, with a strong sense of justice: a wonderful heroine. If you like Beauty and the Beast but wish it had more adventure, you’ll love this.

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1. The Pellinor series by Alison Croggon

Honestly… this series is just my favorite of all time. It follows a girl named Maerad as she’s rescued from slavery and thrust into the (literally) magical world of the Bards, who weave their spells through song and lore and tending growing things. Maerad knows no one in this world, but they know her, for she has been the one foretold to cast down the Nameless One as he rises again to power.

The writing… is just. Beautiful. It’s lush and lyrical, you really feel like you’re in the world of Pellinor. There’s a very strong sense of place and atmosphere (very much like Lord of the Rings). The plot is revealed slowly, but artfully. Each and every character is well-rounded and feels like a dear friend. I promise you will not regret picking these up.

Honorable mentions include:

  • Lord of the Rings (of course, they’re classics)
  • Harry Potter (IT WAS JUST SO CLOSE GUYS ESPECIALLY WITH THE ILLUSTRATED EDITIONS)
  • Warbreaker and Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (most interesting magical systems out there, but Mistborn series as a whole just can’t hold my attention. Warbreaker is a standalone tho)
  • Anything Donna Jo Napoli has ever written
  • And my current read I am just way too excited about: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (… I may be excited about it partially because it’s not a Hollows novel…).

Any of mine make your list, too? =P

– Kathleen

Edit: Oh my gosh lol I had totally forgotten it was International Women’s Day! And I just happened to write a post of fantasy books all featuring fantastic female leads!!! That’s just too funny X,D Happy happy! ❤

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